This 1965 painting of Ashcroft by E.J. Hughes recently sold at auction for more than $200,000. Photo: Heffel Fine Art.

Big bucks for painting of small B.C. town

A 1965 painting of Ashcroft by E. J. Hughes exceeded its pre-auction estimate at a recent sale.

A 1965 painting of Ashcroft by renowned west coast painter Edward John (E.J.) Hughes recently sold at a Heffel Fine Art Post-War and Contemporary Art live auction for $205,000 (including buyer’s premium). Its estimated sale price was $125,000 to $175,000.

“Ashcroft (On the Thompson River in Central BC)” is a 32 x 48 inch oil on canvas work. Over the years it has been exhibited at several shows across Canada, including one at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Hughes—now regarded as one of the most accomplished B.C. landscape painters of his time—was born in North Vancouver in 1913 and grew up in Nanaimo.

He trained at the Vancouver School of Art and became a commercial artist, then enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1940 and became an Army artist. He was soon promoted to the position of official Army War artist, and worked in Canada, Great Britain, and the Aleutians.

When the war ended Hughes returned to Vancouver Island, where he continued painting. In 1951 he signed a contract with the Dominion Gallery in Montreal and was able to earn a living as a full-time artist.

He was commissioned by Standard Oil to create a series of works depicting B.C.’s coast, and spent a good deal of time travelling through, and painting, the province’s Coastal and Interior regions.

Hughes was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1966. He continued to paint until he passed away in Duncan, B.C. in 2007, aged 93.

In 1956—when Hughes was already celebrated for his West Coast landscapes—Vancouver art collector Doreen Norton sponsored him on a sketching trip to the B.C. Interior. Hughes was very much impressed by what he saw, writing to Norton that “I can understand your enthusiasm in the country up there. The views are really magnificent.”

In 1958 Hughes returned to the Interior, making detailed graphite sketches which he took back with him to his studio at Shawnigan Lake and used to produce oil paintings of what he had seen. One of them was “Ashcroft (On the Thompson River in Central BC)”, which the Heffel’s catalogue describes as a “magisterial work”.

The catalogue goes on to describe the painting in more detail: “This stunning panorama showcases Hughes’s keen powers of observation and his ability to divine the essence of the landscape. Here he captures both the fine details of the town, overshadowed by its dramatic setting, and the vastness of the surrounding landscape, from the sinuous Thompson River to the striking clouds rolling up over the distant mountains.

“The colour palette in this canvas is brilliant and intense—a hallmark of his sought-after 1960s works. Hughes’s unique and powerful vision of the landscape in works such as this made him one of the most important landscape painters in Canada.”

The painting’s selling price, although hefty, is far from the highest price paid at auction for a Hughes work. His painting “The Post Office at Courtenay, BC” was estimated at $600,00 to $800,000 when it went to auction in May, 2016, and sold for $1,593,000 (buyer’s premium included). “Coastal Boats Near Sidney, BC” also topped the $1 million mark at auction (in 2011)

Hughes is not the only well-known Canadian artist to have visited Ashcroft and drawn what he saw there. In 1945 A.Y. Jackson, a member of the Group of Seven, came to Ashcroft and produced two studies of it: one looking south down Railway Avenue (the north edge of the Central Café building is just visible) and one looking east over the town from the north end of Brink Lane.

Both of Jackson’s Ashcroft works have been interpreted and recreated as glass mosaics, and are visible on the Rolgear building on Railway Avenue and in the Heritage Park near the gazebo.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

‘A labour of love’: High school turns into ‘toy shop’ for Surrey Christmas Bureau

Fraser Heights Secondary has been making toys for the non-profit for more than a decade

Oppal says Surrey mayor wrong about policing transition timeline

Chairman of committee overseeing Surrey’s transition from RCMP to city police says work won’t be done by Dec. 11

White Rock waterfront strategy ‘pop-up’ session to be held tomorrow

Event to take place at museum from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Farnworth says Surrey RCMP boss’s statement on budget should be taken ‘seriously’

Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald warned Surrey’s budget will have “detrimental effect” on policing

LETTER: If recall mechanism existed, Surrey’s mayor would be gone in heartbeat

McCallum and cronies are out of control, won’t listen and are in dereliction of their duty

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Chilliwack mom gives back to neonatal unit with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Most Read